Steal this Teacher’s AWESOME Plan to Track Bullying

Teacher goals. Every few months, this post pops up in my newsfeed or email, and I think its about time I share it with others. I’m also sharing a free pdf at the bottom of this post!math

Every Friday afternoon Chase’s teacher asks her students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit the following week. The children know that these requests may or may not be honored. She also asks the students to nominate one student whom they believe has been an exceptional classroom citizen that week. All ballots are privately submitted to her.

And every single Friday afternoon, after the students go home, Chase’s teacher takes out those slips of paper, places them in front of her and studies them. She looks for patterns.

  • Who is not getting requested by anyone else?
  • Who doesn’t even know who to request?
  • Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated?
  • Who had a million friends last week and none this week?

You see, Chase’s teacher is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” Chase’s teacher is looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life. She is discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed by their peers. And she’s pinning down- right away- who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying.

via Share This With All the Schools, Please » Momastery.

Super inspiring right? Here’s the great thing. I’ve created a quick and easy to use pdf to help you analyze this information quickly. I find when I have a worksheet for something like this, it’s easier to quickly look over the material. The faster I can determine who needs attention, the more time I have to reach out to them and help guide them.

I created the pdf to be cut into fourths. Each quarter of a page looks like the above image and should make it easy to identify. I only included 3 spots for people to sit near because most often, my students work in groups of four. Having them choose 4 students confused them when I tried doing this last year.

Each week, copy this onto different colored paper. I keep them from week to week in a file to reference. It’s useful to have sorted by student for parent conferences. When I need to meet with a parent, I can quickly look at the student’s seat requests, which reveals a lot more than you’d think.

I also track the information on two of my blank grade sheets, and keep that in a separate file to easily track changes. Each time a students is requested as a seat partner, I put a tally in their box for the week. When a student has several tally marks one week, and significantly less (or in some cases, none) the following, I know that I need to call home and check on the student, and I’ll set up a quiet conference with the student at the beginning of the next week to check in with them and see if everything is alright.

Keeping an eye on the whole student becomes a lot easier with this amazing method! Hope this helps you out!

The Three Acts Of A Mathematical Story

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Act One

Introduce the central conflict of your story/task clearly, visually, viscerally, using as few words as possible.

Act Two

The protagonist/student overcomes obstacles, looks for resources, and develops new tools.

Act Three

Resolve the conflict and set up a sequel/extension.

Check out the full article here: dy/dan » The Three Acts Of A Mathematical Story.

I SLAP FLOOR! (April Fools…)

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With April 1 coming in just TWO short days, it’s time to finish planning the killer classroom prank to freak out your students.

I haven’t decided EXACTLY what I want to do, but I’m leaning towards a “Jabberwocky” style ELA assignment as a QUIZ or TEST grade. I know that will freak my students out since it’s the day our Easter Break starts.

I also want to use this GREAT resource from “Across the Hall in 2nd Grade” on TPT: {Sneaky} Following Directions Quizzes. I’m going to be REALLY mean and give half of my students the quiz where the last direction is “Do not do steps 1-10. Put your pencil down quietly and wait for others to finish.” and the other half will get a sheet with just #1-10, so they will have to follow all the directions. I think it’s going to drive some of my students crazy.

If I have some extra time, this OLAF origami activity would also be A TON of fun. My students and I LOVE Olaf: http://blogs.disney.com/oh-my-disney/2014/04/01/origami-olaf/

Here are some other resources to check out:

Days away…

I am a few mere days away from finishing my first year as a full-time teacher, and what a year it has been. I’ve never been so exhausted, worn out, frustrated, confused, and lost in my life. My students challenged me, because they put on their brakes early in the year, and I felt like Sisyphus at times…rolling that boulder up the hill only to have it roll back down to the bottom. There were a lot of lows this year, and sadly, I think that’s what my students have chosen to focus on as they end 8th grade (although there were a few surprising comments regarding staying another year when they heard that you often have homework in every class every night in high school…with an average of seven classes a day, my students are already reconsidering graduation).

However, what is often forgotten and thrown to the side are the good times. We as humans seem to have this innate love and obsession with all that is negative. Look at our news. How often do you hear stories of tragedy and heartache? It’s a problem, and I’d like to address it here by sharing just a few of my FAVORITE memories about this past year.

 Pi Day

Do any of my students even remember Pi Day? It was that day that we weren’t supposed to have school, but because of snow days, we did. You know. The day where we spent the morning in math drawing circles, measuring diameters and circumferences with rulers and measuring tapes? The day where we spent the afternoon eating pizza and cupcakes and donut holes, and calculated crazy things like the surface area of the cheese, the volume of the donut, and the surface area of N’s frosting on her BEAUTIFUL homemade cupcakes? I remember. It was great. We relaxed. We smiled. We laughed. We read Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi. It was the exact opposite of a Middle School Day.

Of Mice and Men

Two words: Mock Trial…the FIRST EVER at my school. My students rocked it. They put in effort, and worked hard, and really made it their own. I pretty much just assigned them jobs, and they MADE the magic happen. It was epic. It was wonderful, and it was inspiring. Granted, there’s a lot more that I can do to make it better and easier for next year’s crew, but that’s part of the learning process, and that’s on me. These kiddos were amazing! AND it led to another awesome event.

BROADWAY

There was so much energy and focus and dedication put forth by my students for their Of Mice and Men unit, that I was in shock. And awe. And when I heard that Of Mice and Men was coming to Broadway, I knew it had to happen. And when my students heard that James Franco was in it, THEY knew it had to happen. The miracle? It did. It happened. And I was so grateful. Granted, taking a bunch of 12, 13, and 14 year olds to Broadway (where they behaved beautifully…BEAUTIFULLY…I wondered if I even had the same class with me) is a little risky, especially when Obama decides to block off a street between the theatre and your bus, and there’s a bunch of screaming fans between you and that street, but they were great. They loved it. The show was amazing. It was great to compare James Franco’s SNL skit as George Milton to his real George Milton, and it was common core through and through, and FUN.

c/o Broadway.com

High School Registration Day

The sad part about this day involves most of my class leaving for the last hour or so of the day because they needed to register for high school classes. The awesome part involves the 10-or-so students who stayed. With barely one-third of my class present, there wasn’t much that I could successfully teach. Most of the students there didn’t need remediation, either, so that was out of the question. Enter Batman. We sat and worked on their homework and watched Batman the Animated Series until it was time to go home. In fact, I think we even got out a little early that day (GASP!).

found on imgur.com

The Last Day Before Thanksgiving

This was another fun math day. We did a Math Lab, with about 7 stations. Students worked in groups to complete Thanksgiving themed math worksheets that involved Common Core math concepts. And coloring. And decorating. And we all got to leave early. Plus, half of the morning was spent practicing hiding drills.

Teacher Appreciation Day

This was another fun and exciting day…because the 8th grade was on a top secret mission…to write thank you letters to all of the other classroom teachers at our school WITHOUT LETTING THE CAT OUT OF THE BAG. We wanted to surprise and thank all of the people who have helped, and do help, them get to where they are today. This involved decorating, coloring, writing poetry, and lots of other fun and creative things…and it led to some very grateful and happy teachers. I was really impressed by a few students who went above and beyond decorating cards and finding ways to connect to all of the teachers. Many students turned in more than the requested three cards, as well. I loved the activity because I got to see a side of my students that they often hide…the vulnerable, reflective side.

There were so many other days this past year with these students that have been crazy and fun and wonderful, and I’ll probably put together another list of them in a few days when the school year is officially over. These kids have worn me out. But they’ve also left me with some pretty remarkable and amazing memories. As happy as I am to see them go off into the world and achieve their dreams, my heart is breaking a little because I’m going to miss these kids a lot more than I’d like to admit.

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Teaching with TPT?

I recently (as in minutes ago) read the article “I Don’t Like TPT” at http://mattbgomez.com/i-dont-like-tpt/. The author’s points about TPT are:

#1. I think teachers are selling things that work in their classroom. Amazing things no doubt, but the skills, format, imagery and wording is built around what works for their kids or their population. I feel I do my best teaching when I meet the needs of the kids in my classroom. TPT sells almost everything in a PDF format making it impossible for me to change things (even slightly) to meet the needs of my class.

#2 I think TPT is creating what I call the “laminating culture” among teachers.  We all work hard for the little money we get. When we spend $5 on a unit that unit is going to be laminated and used for several years. Why is it being used? Is it because it meets the needs of the kids in the class that year? Or because the kids in the class show an interest in the topic? Sadly, I think they often get used over and over because they cost money and they are easy.

#3 I think cute is overrated. Maybe it is because I am a male teacher but I talked about this with many people at I Teach K this week and it seems a lot of people agree with me. My question is who are we making these activities for? I know teachers need to feel happy and excited about what they are using but often I think early childhood rooms are designed to impress parents and other teacher friends (I have written about my class theme here.) I’m sorry but kids don’t need polka dots, owls, and bubbly fonts to have fun and learn. I would go as far to say they don’t even notice. I have never had a kid tell me great job on the design of my handout or activity.

#4 I think real images are more valuable than clip art. When I make something for my class I use creativecommons.org to find real images of butterflies, elephants, sunflowers and fire trucks. My class is not growing up in a world of DJ inkers.

By telling you all of this, you might think I’m ruining the article for you. Trust me, I’m not. In fact, the real meat of the article, in my opinion, is in the comments. See, his real purpose in sharing these thoughts is to get the readers to think, to talk, and to collaborate. His points are valid, and I’d like to take a moment to address them.

  1. Teachers are selling things that work in their classrooms. It does work for that particular population. It does not mean that it will not work for your population, but the locked PDF formatting does make it difficult to tweak things to work for your class. I have discovered that challenge, and I try to purchase items that I can edit to my heart’s desire.
  2. TPT might be creating a “laminating culture,” but there are teachers like me who consider “sticking it in a sheet protector so I can add and edit it as needed because Lord knows how long this is going to work (heck, if this is even going to work).” However, it is true. There are some things that teachers use over and over again BECAUSE they paid so much for it. This idea brings me back to #1. I buy things that I can tweak. If I’m shelling out MY money (my hard earned money) to get things for my students, I better damn well be able to edit it and make it work for years to come. Even if it means tearing it completely apart year-to-year to fix it. I don’t care. TPT is a starting point for me. I hardly ever use the things as suggested. My students aren’t your students, fool!
  3. I work with Middle School students. They might not like cute, but they do like things to feel fun. They pay closer attention when there are pictures, videos, etc. rather than boring old Georgia-font-size-12 scrawled across a worksheet (I HATE COMIC SANS!). Throwing in some more fun elements keeps me entertained, and my students seem to like it more, too. Though, I can see where you’re coming from working with kindergarten. Now, I’m not saying kids need polka dots, bubbly fonts, etc…but sometimes, it does help to catch their attention a little when they get to be middle school students.
  4. Real images are more valuable than clip art. Except when you’ve got a less than or equal to coloring sheet to help your students remember what values of numbers actually are, because middle schoolers can’t handle coloring in a real image in that case. Heck, I can’t handle putting values into those tiny little spots! But I digress. The point is, yes, kids need to see the real image. Some of the things available on TPT do have real images. Unfortunately, they are mostly for the upper grades.

In conclusion, I think Matt made some real great points, but TPT is only as useful as you make it, and it only helps you as much as you are willing to put effort into it. If you’re just printing stuff off and passing it out, it’s not going to do your students any good, but if you’re taking things from TPT, and making them your own? I have a feeling that you’re going to become a better teacher.

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P.S. I’m totally on team cute, but I’m also totally on “my students need to decorate my classroom with THEIR work” so sometimes, team cute gets a little lost 😦